Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Creating a Constitution
To better understand constitutions, it can be useful to look at a real-life creation of a national constitution.
The classic example is the US Constitution - which was discussed at a convention held in 1787. There is an excellent set of resources at http://teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/. Although it was a closed-door convention (because the view was that deliberation would be enhanced if members felt free to express their honest opinions, rather than be looking over their shoulders to avoid criticism) - James Madison made extensive notes - so we can follow what was said and done. The key issues are also discussed in the Federalist Papers. (Very useful for anyone studying Constitutional Law - not as a description of a constitution - but food for thought about what matters need to be addressed. I'm recommending it to my W201 students!)
A recent C-SPAN programme on James Madison and his role in the creation of the US Constitution can be viewed here.